Thailand's annual vegetarian festival, known locally as Tesagan Jae takes place in October. Taking place during the ninth lunar month (the dates vary each year) the jae festival is a 10-day period when many Chinese-Thais will adopt a strict vegetarian - in fact closer to vegan - diet. The festival is thought to have originated 150 years ago by the Chinese population on Phuket and it is here the famous and much-photographed street parades of people carrying spiritual effigies and piercing themselves with knives (in respect of the gods) take place.
The festival is also big in Bangkok and throughout Thailand, hundreds of food stalls and restaurants will offer special jae menus, which are promoted by fluttering yellow flags with red Chinese lettering.
Jae is not simply a matter of avoiding eating meat, however, as participants are encouraged to avoid all animal, fish and dairy products along with strong flavours such as onion, chilli, coriander and garlic - basically anything that Thai people depend on the rest of the year! Tobacco, alcohol, sex and even gossiping are forbidden and the period of the vegetarian festival is used to embark up period of reflection, when one cleanses body and soul. Strict adherents will demonstrate this by wearing only white.
If you're vegetarian or vegan, Jae is the perfect occasion for visiting Thailand. Although Thai food is fairly friendly to vegetarians at any time of the year, during the vegetarian festival is the best time of the year when you can explore the country's amazing culinary culture without having any fear of unwittingly being served meat or the ever-present fish sauce. Admittedly, Jae food is a little blander than typical Thai cuisine, but there are plenty of delicious and often intriguing treats to try.
"If you're vegetarian or vegan, Jae is the perfect occasion for visiting Thailand."
Tell Tale Tip If we've whetted your appetite, why not experience Jae for yourself by taking any trip to Thailand in October, just let us know you're a vegetarian and/or interested in the festival when you book and we'll make sure you take it in.
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